August 16, 2022 | 10:34 am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Budget and Management has released the funds to allow the Libreng Sakay program along the EDSA bus carousel to continue until December this year, it revealed on Tuesday.
In a statement sent to reporters, DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman endorsed the Special Allocation Release Order and Notice of Cash Allocation in the amount of 1.4 billion pesos to cover the needs of funding for the extended duration of the service contract program, intended to support the mobility of students and workers.
Pangandaman added that the funds would benefit some 628 onboard public service bus units on the EDSA bus route.
“The Free Ride is a great help and relief in the pockets of commuters, especially for students and those in the working population. It will support up to 50 million riders from September 1 to December 31,” said said Pangandaman.
“This will be of great help to the livelihoods of EDSA Busway drivers who are still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and who are affected by the continued increase in fuel prices.”
Under service contracts, drivers and operators receive financial support through performance-based payments instead of the usual cap system where payment is calculated based on the number of passengers they take on the daytime.
As a reminder, one of the first acts of President Ferdinand Marcos Jrs. as incumbent CEO was to extend the EDSA free bus ride program until the end of the year after its scheduled expiration at the end of July.
But that came after outgoing Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board officials said funds for Libreng Sakay had already run out. This was after they said they were spending 10 million pesos a day on the EDSA carousel alone.
The Department of Transport at the time admitted that it still did not know where the funds would come from.
Free rides were also offered to students on train tracks before they returned to face-to-face classes, although Libreng Sakay for other commuters has since ended on Metro Line 3.
Although free rides on the EDSA carousel have been a financial crutch for commuters amid the fuel crisis, groups of commuters have sounded the alarm over long queues, forcing commuters to wait hours just to get a free ride. — Franco Luna